?c?ryas – Why do they exist?




Ācārya is commonly understood as ‘one who teaches by example’. His basic duty is to spread a bona fide religious system and induce people to bow down to the Supreme Lord. They personally follow the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus model real religious principles (see Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.48 purport). By Krishna’s arrangement the acaryas lead, by example and precept, those enveloped in the darkness of ignorance. Krishna is kind to his parts and parcels so He sends us leaders to help show us the way home.

Sometimes we take advice from folks who aren't aware of their life's purpose. For instance, if I need to fix my car I'd much rather go to someone who is expert than try myself. Whether or not he can existentially place himself in perspective has little bearing on his ability to advise me on such a matter.

When we seek advice for how to deal with other individuals, however, we need to use more discrimination. Dealing with people, what to speak of leading or organizing them, requires far more spiritual sensitivity. This sensitivity develops proportionately to our own spiritual awareness. The more Krishna conscious we are, the more aware we become of the dormant spiritual yearnings in those whom we come in contact with.

If, on the other hand, a person’s consciousness is covered by impersonalism (read: not chanting Hare Krishna) then, whether they can detect it themselves or not, their social outlook will be fatalistic and mechanistic. When such a person posits theories on social development, leadership, or self-improvement then these views are unavoidably tainted by impermanence and atheism.

The question then arises whether or not such theories on leadership and social organization are of much value to devotees when we have an abundance of not only effective but spiritually empowered leadership examples within our own tradition. In a sense, its an insult of negligence to think that we need to rely upon the advice of the blind when we have been given the opportunity to associate by vani with the personalities specifically sent to teach, inspire and lead us. Some of us even take initiation into such a line of authority and thus voluntarily become responsible for keeping this authority intact by our own example and precept.

So is it seditious to read a modern book on leadership? Personally, I don’t think so. There may be something useful there according to time, place and circumstance. I do think, however, that we have to keep such association in perspective considering the authors’ qualification.

Here’s a rule of thumb that may serve as a guide when taking such association, “Does this person know who they are? Even theoretically?”

Granted, a participant in a sub-theistic tradition (upadharma) may have a dim notion that they are servants of God but can they demonstrate and articulate this identity like the acaryas in our Gaudiya line?

Here’s a timely illustration:

“ANYONE hoping the Dalai Lama would divulge the meaning of life at his public talk in Sydney yesterday would have been disappointed.

"The precise answer is, I don't know," the smiling Buddhist monk said when the question was put to him by a reporter.”

Here is an honest man and I respect him as such. I think he even recently took up vegetarianism again. (or maybe not)

So, if we are inflicted with a hunger for leadership then we should take this desire to the Deity and ask Him to use this desire in His service. At that point we should be sensitive to advice from devotees as often this is the medium by which Krishna reciprocates with our direct requests and directs us accordingly.



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